Putting High Security Outdoor Locking Systems to the Test

May 2, 2019
Electronic padlocks, mechanical padlocks with hardened features and padlocks with special key arrangements can provide additional security

When we use the words “High Security” in an outdoor application, thoughts of  attack-proof, high-priced locking systems usually come to mind. While the hope of every locksmith is that the outdoor, high-security locks they install are att1ack-proof, each of us know that no matter if it’s a high-quality, high-security padlock; shutter lock; round, hidden-shackle lock; a high-security electronic padlock; or any other kind of locking system, there’s no guarantee that someone won’t put it to the test.

The fact is, any lock can be attacked and circumvented with enough effort and time. While we cannot control the impetus to attack or the amount of effort that a would-be criminal exerts in his attempt to overcome the locks we install, we can to some extent control the amount of time he has to spend doing it. Herein lies the key to successfully repelling a criminal’s advance. We must place enough hurdles between them and their objective so they decide not to do the crime at all.

One of the biggest hurdles we can place is the right type of high security lock. There are, in fact, three avenues to high-end protection in a high-security venue that we can take. They are:

  1. Electronic locking systems
  2. Hardened high-tech mechanical padlocks with pick-resistant cylinders
  3. Padlocks with special key arrangements

In this Locksmith Ledger article we’re going to talk about each one of these as we attempt to provide high-security protection for our client’s outdoor assets. We’ll also provide examples of each, and we’ll include a number of manufacturers that you can turn to for help in this quest. There are additional manufacturers that you also can turn to. For those who work online, please use Locksmith Ledger’s Buyer’s Guide (http://bit.ly/2JMn6KD) to find the right lock made by the right manufacturer for your jobs.

High-Security Locks With Special Key Arrangements

One way to secure a padlock, shutter lock, or any other kind of outdoor lock is to use a special key arrangement that is hard to circumvent while requiring an authorized locksmith to duplicate it. Keys that utilize special key cutting methods, various kinds of side-cut arrangements, as well as electronic keys that cannot easily be duped by even a professional thief, all of these methods essentially places an additional hurdle in front of the criminal, one that he/she will likely not want to jump.

Medeco’s Systems Series Padlock (http://bit.ly/2UZDCbl) is a good example of an outdoor padlock that’s designed to be pick resistant. Equipped with hardened, stainless steel inserts, would-be criminals naturally find drilling, pulling, and other methods of physical attack difficult to achieve.

“It takes special equipment to duplicate and work with Medeco locks because of the special keying arrangement. Their high-security padlocks are exceptionally strong and hard to attack, which means it will take [a crook] two or three times as long to succeed,” says Jeff Fisher, owner of Advanced Doors and Security of Denver.

This padlock comes with the option of mechanical or electronic cylinders. Both keys and locks are protected under Medeco’s patent, trademark, and copyright, all of which assures your client that no one but you, an authorized Medeco dealer, will have the equipment necessary to create either mechanical or electronic keys. One model has a shrouded shackle that helps repel those who would otherwise saw or cut the bolt.

BOLT Lock of Milwaukee, WI, (http://bit.ly/2nMHBv8) is another example of a lock manufacturer that gets it. This company makes a rugged series of outdoor locks that will allow your clients to utilize almost any key. One avenue taken by many fleet owners and managers is to key an outdoor Bolt padlock to match the ignition key of the delivery truck that it’s used on. This is a great way to provide a common key to lawn care, maintenance workers, and others that work for a property management company that’s responsible for utility sheds on many properties.

High-security round padlocks equipped with round 7-pin tubular locks are another example of a special locking arrangement designed to protect the shackle from cutting. These locks are often found on storage units, gates, job boxes, and other types of storage and entrance doors and lids. Because part of the lock is designed to shroud the shackle, it’s difficult to apply a bolt cutter or a saw. A hardened steel pin at the center of the tubular lock also helps to prevent drilling.

Capitol Industries Inc., a manufacturer of magnetically operated padlocks (http://bit.ly/2uGGpLB), also has implemented a magnetic key with a padlock which all but eliminates any chance of picking or drilling. Each lock has its own unique magnetic key with over 250,000 combinations. This outdoor padlock is made for gates, trucks, trailers, sheds, construction sites and industrial applications.

High-Security Electronic Locking Systems

Electronic locks, electronic access Control systems, special electronic keys--all of them bring to mind “high security” when it comes to installing a cut above the norm. Although this is for the most part true, it goes without saying that any high-security lock you install, whether it’s mechanical, electronic, or electromechanical, must be made of materials with above average strength, capable of withstanding a significant attack.

One of the trends today in outdoor protection is to combine electronics with mechanical in padlocks, round locks with shrouded shackles, shutter locks, etc. The PacLock model PB300 (http://bit.ly/2usSR0Z), made by the Pacific Lock Company of Valencia, CA, is a good example of where wireless BluetoothTM (BT) and a hardened steel casing come together to create a padlock that uses an ordinary Smartphone or some other mobile device. The PB300 also uses a special keyfob called a PAC-Blue to unlock them. Programming in this case is performed through the firm’s Cloud-based service called Sentinel. There is no mechanical override key with this lock for someone to use to attack.

Master Lock also offers a high-tech, high-security outdoor padlock, the model 4401DLH (http://bit.ly/2YrW7aq). This padlock uses Bluetooth tech combined with the end user’s mobile device, such as a Tablet or Smartphone. Although the battery contained within the lock, a model CR2450, is designed to last for several years, there is a power-jump feature on the lock that will enable the client to power it up when the battery has gone flat. This power-jump feature does not provide access, however--only the power needed for an authorized device to access the lock. As with the PB300, there are no override keys on this lock for a criminal to pick or tamer with.

Hardened, High-Tech Mechanical Locks

One of the most important aspect of any high-security, outdoor lock is the materials that it’s comprised of. The model MLK3T high-security padlock, manufactured by Master Lock, is designed to withstand a sizable attack. Equipped with a cut- and rust-resistant steel case, the time it would take a burglar to saw his way through it is excessive enough to deter him, hopefully right from the start. In addition, because these locks are equipped with dual locking levers, the extra pry-resistance exerted on the shackle is enough to discourage picking.

Master Lock (http://bit.ly/2JJzbAp), Sesamee (http://bit.ly/2UdvNl5), and other lock makers also offer hardened-steel, shroud-protected, hidden-shackle locks for special high-security applications. Barns and storage sheds come to mind, wherever a higher level of security is required. Because the shackle is hidden inside the lock itself, there is no easy way to cut it or the brackets that engage it. Again, this presents two more hurdles between the perpetrator and his goal.

The Frank J. Martin (FJM) company of Lynnwood, WA, is another manufacturer that offers a high-security combination lock, the model SK-790. This lock features a hardened steel shackle that effectively increases the time it takes to saw through it. It’s also constructed with rust-resistant stainless steel, which is ideal for outdoor applications. This lock is designed to accommodate up to 10K combinations / users. Because the hardened steel shackle is shrouded, it will also resist attacks by way of slashing, sawing, and cutting with a bolt cutter.

The bottom line with respect to physical strength is that any lock you use for a high-security application must be physically stronger than the average lock to repel an attack. Laminated, hardened steel; shrouded, hardened steel shackles; in addition to special key arrangements is a must.